The logic of the theoretical and practical products of design research


  • Matthew Wayne Easterday Northwestern University
  • Daniel G Rees Lewis Northwestern University
  • Elizabeth M Gerber Northwestern University



Design research, Design-based research


Design research (DR) promises to simultaneously solve practical problems of education and develop theory to guide future interventions. However, educational DR remains paradigmatically underdeveloped, making it difficult to train new researchers, to agree upon what makes a theoretical contribution, and to promise clear outputs to funders – all of which hinders the accumulation of knowledge. To further the paradigmatic development of educational DR we ask: how do we characterise the practical and theoretical products of DR? We propose that DR products are arguments for how people should learn. The theoretical products are design models in the form of blueprints, design arguments, and mockups, as well as principles and frameworks – all of which help designers create practical products to promote learning in the real world. Furthermore, the products of DR precipitate and build upon theoretical contributions from other fields in the natural sciences and ethics. This understanding of the products of DR strengthens the methodology and allows us to better build theory for solving educational problems.


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How to Cite

Easterday, M. W., Rees Lewis, D. G., & Gerber, E. M. (2016). The logic of the theoretical and practical products of design research. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32(4).

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